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The Tummy Tuck, also known as an abdominoplasty, is a surgical procedure designed to correct a loose, sagging, or protruding abdomen, which can be brought on through a dramatic weight loss, pregnancy, or simply the aging process, all of which can cause the stomach muscles to weaken. As this happens, the mid-section will experience a loss of tone and elasticity, but diet and exercise alone cannot correct these physical changes.

An abdominoplasty can eliminate the excess skin and tissue along the stomach, getting rid of the pooch or “muffin top” by pulling the skin and muscle tight, allowing clothes to fit better, increasing confidence and self-esteem, and improving intimate relationships.  As long as a healthy weight is maintained, the results from a Tummy Tuck can be long lasting.

Is a Tummy Tuck Right for Me?

The most ideal candidates for this surgery are healthy men and women, looking to improve the look of their body, who are in relatively good shape but are bothered by loose abdominal skin or large fat deposits that won’t respond to diet or exercise.

Abdominoplasty can be particularly beneficial for women who have stretched abdominal skin due to pregnancy, though they should have completed childbearing before considering the procedure. Loss of skin elasticity in older patients, which frequently occurs with slight obesity, can also be improved through tummy tuck surgery in Sarasota.

When to Wait on a Tummy Tuck

Patients who intend to lose a lot of weight should postpone the surgery. Also, women who plan future pregnancies should wait, as vertical muscles in the abdomen that are tightened during surgery can separate again during pregnancy. Poor healing of the skin is most likely to affect smokers, so smokers must quit at least one month prior to surgery and refrain from smoking at least one month after the surgery.

Although abdominoplasty can dramatically reduce the appearance of a protruding abdomen bear in mind, it does produce a permanent scar, which, depending on the extent of the original problem and the surgery required to correct it, can extend from hip to hip.

Before & After

Planning Your Surgery

During your initial consultation, Dr. Kreithen will evaluate your health, determine the extent of fat deposits in your abdominal region, and carefully assess your skin tone. Be sure to tell him if you smoke and if you’re taking any medications, vitamins, herbals, or other drugs.

If your fat deposits are limited to the area below the navel, you may require a less complex procedure called a mini-tummy tuck, which can often be performed on an outpatient basis.

Other patients may benefit more from partial or complete abdominoplasty done in conjunction with liposuction to remove fat deposits from the hips. Some patients might achieve the results they desire by undergoing only liposuction in Sarasota.

If, for example, your fat deposits are limited to the area below the navel, you may require a less complex procedure called a partial abdominoplasty, also know as a mini-tummy tuck, which can often be performed on an outpatient basis.

You may, on the other hand, benefit more from partial or complete abdominoplasty done in conjunction with liposuction to remove fat deposits from the hips, for a better body contour. Or maybe liposuction alone would create the best result.

At the completion of your consultation, you will meet with our patient coordinator. You will be given an estimate of the cost of your procedure , and have the option to schedule your procedure if you so choose.

You are also encouraged to bring your spouse, significant other, family member, or a friend to your consultation. Dr. Kreithen realizes the importance of your decision, and will be happy to meet with you a second time to discuss the surgery.

In most cases, health insurance policies do not cover the cost of abdominoplasty, but you can check your policy to be sure.

Quick Facts About the Tummy Tuck

  • Procedure: Flatten abdomen by removing excess fat and skin and tightening muscles of abdominal wall.
  • Length: 2 to 5 hours.
  • Anesthesia: General.
  • In/Outpatient: Either depending on individual circumstances and extent of surgery.
  • Side Effects: Temporary pain. Swelling, soreness, numbness of abdominal skin, bruising, tiredness for several weeks or months.
  • Risks: Blood clots. Fluid collection. Infection. Bleeding under the skin flap. Poor healing resulting in conspicuous scarring or skin loss. Need for a second operation.
  • Recovery: Back to work: 2 to 4 weeks. More strenuous activity: 4 to 6 weeks or more. Fading and flattening of scars: 3 months to 2 years.
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Preparing for Your Surgery

Dr. Kreithen will give you specific instructions on how to prepare for surgery, including guidelines on eating and drinking, smoking, and taking or avoiding certain vitamins, herbals and medications.

If you smoke, plan to quit at least one month before your surgery and not to resume for at least one month after your surgery. Avoid overexposure to the sun before surgery, especially to your abdomen, and do not go on a stringent diet, as both can inhibit your ability to heal. If you develop a cold or infection of any kind, your surgery will probably be postponed.

You should bring your bathing suit the day of surgery to help Dr. Kreithen design the incisions so that the scar will be hidden in public. Whether your surgery is done on an outpatient or inpatient basis, you should arrange for someone to drive you home after your surgery, and to help you out for a day or two after you leave the hospital, if needed.

Where Your Surgery Will be Performed

An abdominoplasty will most likely be performed at our new state-of-the-art Holcomb – Kreithen Plastic Surgery Medical Center operating room. An overnight stay may be required depending on the extent of the surgery.

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Types of Anesthesia

General anesthesia is preferred by Dr. Kreithen for abdominoplasty, so you’ll sleep through the operation.

For a mini-abdominoplasty, local anesthesia is an option, combined with a sedative to make you drowsy. You’ll be awake but relaxed, and your abdominal region will be insensitive to pain. (However, you may feel some tugging or occasional discomfort.)

The Tummy Tuck Procedure

This procedure is performed under general anesthesia. The total time for surgery will be between four and six hours, depending on the individual patient.

Full Tummy Tuck

A full tummy tuck includes a horizontal incision, above the pubic line, as well an incision immediately above the umbilicus (Belly Button). From here, the excess skin and fatty tissue will be excised. The weakened abdominal muscles will be pulled taut, and the belly button will be appropriately repositioned. A low-lying scar will be apparent after the procedure, running from hip to hip, although this will significantly fade over time.

Mini-Tummy Tuck

A mini-tummy tuck, or limited abdominoplasty, can be used when the primary trouble area lies below the belly button area. This technique utilizes a shorter incision along the abdomen, and does not require the repositioning of the belly button. The mini-tummy tuck results in a smaller scar than the full tummy tuck.

The Surgery

Complete abdominoplasty usually takes two to five hours, depending on the extent of work required. Partial abdominoplasty may take an hour or two.

Most commonly, Dr. Kreithen will make a long incision from hip bone to hip bone, just above the pubic area. A second incision is made to free the navel from surrounding tissue. With partial abdominoplasty, the incision is much shorter and the navel may not be moved, although it may be pulled into an unnatural shape as the skin is tightened and stitched. Next, Dr. Kreithen will separate the skin from the abdominal wall all the way up to your ribs and lift a large skin flap to reveal the vertical muscles in your abdomen.

These muscles are tightened by pulling them close together and stitching them into their new position. This provides a firmer abdominal wall and narrows the waistline.

The skin flap is then stretched down and the extra skin is removed. A new hole is cut for your navel, which is then stitched in place. Finally, the incisions will be stitched, dressings will be applied, and a temporary tube may be inserted to drain excess fluid from the surgical site. Liposuction may be performed to contour the abdominal wall or flanks.

In partial abdominoplasty, the skin is separated only between the incision line and the navel. This skin flap is stretched down, the excess is removed, and the flap is stitched back into place.

After Your Tummy Tuck in Sarasota

For the first few days, your abdomen will probably be swollen and you’re likely to feel some pain and discomfort which can be controlled by medication. Depending on the extent of the surgery, some of our tummy tuck Sarasota patients are released within a few hours while others may have to remain hospitalized for two to three days.

Dr. Kreithen will give you instructions for showering and changing your dressings. And though you may not be able to stand straight at first, you should start walking as soon as possible.

Surface stitches will be removed in five to seven days, and deeper sutures, with ends that protrude through the skin, will come out in two to three weeks. The dressing on your incision may be replaced by a support garment. Depending on your drain output, they may be removed within the first two weeks after the surgery.

Tummy Tuck Recovery

After the procedure, a compression garment will need to be worn for several days. This will minimize swelling and provide support for the abdomen as it heals. Drain tubes will be used to reduce the amount of fluid and blood in the abdomen; these are usually removed between one and two weeks after surgery.

You’ll experience moderate discomfort after the procedure, so we’ll prescribe pain medication to keep you resting comfortably at home, along with a potential antibiotic, to prevent the chance for infection. The area may have temporary numbness, or a firm feeling on the top of the skin, both of which will gradually resolve over the first several months. 

Bending, stretching, and lifting should be avoided for the first week, and strenuous exercise should remain off limits for another four to six weeks. Patients are generally well enough to return to work 10 to 14 days after their surgery.

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When Will I See My Results?

Some results from the tummy tuck will be immediately visible, although these may be obscured due to swelling and discoloration of the area. Within the first two weeks, patients are generally regain their ability to move around freely and stand fully upright; it is a this time the new, thinner figure can be fully appreciated

Are There Complications?

The complications arising from this surgery are rare, but can occur, as this is an invasive procedure. Potential risks include infection, bleeding, scarring, or poor healing. Patients should be extremely cautious in choosing their Abdominoplasty provider. Only a Board Certified cosmetic surgery, like Dr. Kreithen, can assure patients of a safe and efficient procedure.

Poor healing, which results in conspicuous scars, may necessitate a second operation. Smokers should be advised to stop, as smoking may increase the risk of complications and delay healing.

You can reduce your risk of complications by closely following your Dr. Kreithen’s instructions before and after the surgery, especially with regard to when and how you should resume physical activity.

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Getting Back to Normal

It may take you weeks or months to feel like your old self again. If you start out in top physical condition with strong abdominal muscles, recovery from abdominoplasty will be much faster. Some people return to work after two weeks, while others take three or four weeks to rest and recuperate. You will need to take care of your drainage tubes and record the output three times a day. You may shower once all of the drainage tubes are removed. It is not safe to drive a car within 24 hours of taking pain medication, as your reflexes and alertness may be altered.

Exercise will help you heal better, particularly walking. Even people who have never exercised before should begin an exercise program to reduce swelling, lower the chance of blood clots, and tone muscles.

Vigorous exercise, however, should be avoided until you can do it comfortably, approximately 6 weeks after the surgery. You may lift up to 10 pounds in each hand during the initial 6 week period.

Your scars may actually appear to worsen during the first three to six months as they heal, but this is normal.

Expect it to take nine months to a year before your scars flatten out and lighten in color.

While they’ll never disappear completely, abdominal scars will not show under most clothing, even under bathing suits.

Your New Look

Abdominoplasty, whether partial or complete, produces excellent results for Sarasota abdominoplasty patients with weakened abdominal muscles or excess skin. And in most cases, the results are long-lasting as long as you follow a balanced diet and exercise regularly.

If you’re realistic in your expectations and prepared for the consequences of a permanent scar and a lengthy recovery period, abdominoplasty may be just the answer for you.

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